ooh, I think I know the answer to this one

Via Orange Site, we have “Questions“. Specifically, this one:

Will end-user applications ever be truly programmable? If so, how?

Emacs, Smalltalk, Genera, and VBA embody a vision of malleable end-user computing: if the application doesn’t do what you want, it’s easy to tweak or augment it to suit your purposes. Today, however, end-user software increasingly operates behind bulletproof glass. This is especially true in the growth areas: mobile and web apps. Furthermore, not only is it getting harder to manipulate the application logic itself, but it’s also becoming harder to directly manipulate your data. With Visual Basic, you can readily write a quick script to calculate some calendar analytics with Outlook. To do the same with Google Calendar is a very laborious chore.

End-user computing is becoming less a bicycle and more a monorail for the mind.

As a consequence, we need ever more domain-specific software. Rather than use universal tools for handling charts and for manipulating data, we tend to use separate analytics packages for every conceivable application. This is not all bad. Domain-specific tools can maximize ease-of-use and help amortize the cost of complex, specialized functionality. Sublime’s built-in ⌘-T works better than every third-party Emacs package. Still, despite these benefits, the popularity of macros and browser plugins strongly suggest that users are smart and want more control.

Should we just give up on our earlier visions of empowered users or is a better equilibrium possible?

And I think I have at least one possible answer, so here goes.

Continue reading “ooh, I think I know the answer to this one”

iOS remains a cesspool of annoyance, but I can’t leave

I’ve been using iPhones since the very first one; I had one in my hot little hands a mere 2 weeks after it debuted. So I’ve seen nearly every shitshow come and go. I have an extremely high confidence that most egregious problems will be resolved, because they always have been, and it remains in Apple’s best interest to continue to fix the big problems.

The small problems, however, remain from release to release. I’m not sure they’ll get around to fixing them. Or, possibly, I’m “lucky” and the only person in the world with these problems.

Continue reading “iOS remains a cesspool of annoyance, but I can’t leave”

ICRPG Stress/Sanity: Take 2

The rough draft was a little far afield of the core ICRPG mechanics; it works great as a direct port, but it’s not ICRPG.

So, take 2:

  1. When you take stress, roll vs WIS (base difficulty 12)
  2. if you fail, you take all stress inflicted by the attack.
  3. If you succeed, roll d10 effort. Final “stress damage” is attack – effort.

Loot and other factors may protect against stress, offering a higher effort die.

The 0-100/101-200 scale and rules remain the same as before.

think that fixes the basic mechanic to be closer to ICRPG than before, while retaining the same kind of “attack/resist” system.

ICRPG Sanity Rules (rough draft)

By way of Darkest Dungeon, I drafted out an idea for Sanity rules for ICRPG.

Sanity (aka stress) is a “double scale”, from 0-100 and 101-200. The first segment is “temporary” and the second is “permanent”.

Every time you accumulate stress – even a single point – you roll d%. You want to roll over the new value if your stress scale (meaning, if you have a stress of 25, and you gain 10, you want to roll 35 or higher).

Success means you’re OK; nothing happens. Failure means you gain an affliction. Make a note at which score you gained the affliction; you might want to note it something like “(52) Hydrophobia”.

When your stress goes over 100, things change slight. You still roll to gain afflictions against d% (but on a 1-100 scale, eg stress of 125 equals a target of 25). You do not need to remember the score, though; you can note them something like “(permanent) fear of breakfast”.

Afflictions gained above 100 are permanent. Lowering your stress does not make them go away. At 100 or less, any afflictions are temporary and as soon as your stress level goes under the level at which an affliction was added, it goes away.

You may reduce stress by plain ol’ rest, prayer, carousing or other vices, or some other activity (noted on your character sheet). Rest removes d4 per week, more advanced methods d6. Advanced stress methods may also require coin; if visiting the brothel helps, you gotta pay. You cannot use ALL methods of stress relief; you must chose vice or virtue. Those choosing vice cannot pray to remove stress; those choosing virtue cannot engage in pleasures of the flesh to remove stress. Other methods (eg loot) exist to remove stress and restore sanity.

(You don’t have to pick virtue or vice ahead of time, but once you pick, you’re committed!)

As above, anything gained as permanent cannot be removed through regular methods. It requires loot, coin, or something special to remove afflictions gained as a result of permanent stress.

If your stress level hits 200, you die or go irrevocably insane; your choice.

TODO: List of afflictions.

My switchel recipe

The Takeout recently posted a piece about hangover cures, and they recommend pickle juice because it’s got what plants crave.

Insanity! I say. Why drink pickle juice when you can drink switchel, the 17th century energy drink! It’s purpose-built for recovery from exercise or binge-drinking.

You can easily search for recipes; but here’s my overall process for making a week’s worth (where I have a small glass usually after working out).

You will need:

  • a few decently sized hands of ginger
  • a bunch of sugar, or perhaps agave or even molasses
  • apple cider vinegar – the fancy kind with the mother
  • maybe some citrus

From there it’s easy. Peel the ginger root (use a spoon, not some dingus) and then pulverize it somehow; I use a food processor. I usually end up with about 2 cups worth. Then add it to a simple syrup and simmer for as long as it takes for your house to smell like ginger syrup.

The potency here is something that you’re going to have to adjust. REALLY like it sweet? Use agave syrup. Want a more complex flavor? Use demerara sugar. You will maybe have to fiddle a little instead of just 1:1, and esp in relation to the ginger. For 2 cups of processed ginger I use 4-5 cups of water and a little less sugar, favoring demerara over white. If it’s not sweet enough, I spike it w/ some agave since it melts at room temperature with just a little agitation.

Once you’ve reduced it by a little bit and your house smells wonderful, set it aside and let it cool. You might add a touch of lemon juice, depending on the potency of vinegar you use.

Strain it into a vessel through cheesecloth. You will always end up with solids so if you somehow can’t manage any solids at all in your drink, sorry, don’t try this or spend the next month straining it through progressively finer filters.

Then the vinegar. I use about 3:1 syrup to vinegar, but I also use some really fancy crap I get at the hippie health food store so it has a really nice flavor and a little less sourness. You’ll have to play with it to get the right flavor for you. You’re looking for sour but not “I am drinking vinegar”. If you want “I am drinking vinegar” add more lemon or use a little of the un-fancy (strained/mother-less) apple cider vinegar.

Put it in the fridge. It lasts a long time but TBH I have no idea just how long bc I drink it before it has a chance to go off.

To Serve: I usually put about 5-6 tablespoons worth in a highball-sized glass (3/4″ depth? I dunno) and then fill the rest of the glass with seltzer. Again, you’ll have to work it out on your own as to just how much dilution you prefer. It’s calorie-dense (you made sugar syrup, duh) but it’s also extremely rich in what plants crave and all the good shit in ginger. When I had the flu I was drinking it 2x a day.

And yes, it’s an amazing hangover cure.

Jessica Jones is hard to watch

I think that Jessica Jones doesn’t quite get the recognition it deserves. It’s as powerful and affecting as Black Panther, because it deals with real things in our world and just happens to use the hook of the MCU, lest it become a generic Lifetime movie.

But god DAMN is it hard to watch sometimes.

S1 was all about rape and loss of agency, and each episode was difficult to get through because it was really no-holds-barred without being explicit. S2 adds to that by having everyone trying to “live past” all that while essentially letting their buried feelings and emotions become a time-bomb. Everyone has a second, internal life – pain, addiction, remorse, whatever – that’s constantly stopping them from being happy because they can’t work out how to resolve it. Maybe they can’t.

Unlike most MCU TV shows, they make violence infrequent; there’s not a “hallway fight” in every ep. Jessica lives in a world of normies – she doesn’t have to pummel 30 hardened Russian mobsters, just handle a jerk at a bar.

The downside to this is that when real violence happens it’s personal and often brutal. It’s far more affecting than watching Frank Castle gun down a room full of mobsters, because it’s one person with the specific and unilateral intent of harming another person. Frank is doing harm to a concept, personified by a room of extras with squibs; Alisa crushing the head of Jessica’s boyfriend, showing each bloody impact on the wall – knowing she could stop and maybe, just maybe, he’s alive – and then letting us see Jessica find his still-warm dead body, is a different kind of violence altogether.

We also get to see the personal kind of violence that comes from addiction: Trish gets hooked on the Super-Soldier inhaler and tricks Malcolm, now clean, to take a substance she knows is addictive. This is psychological violence and watching it was incredibly hard; I’ve seen people relapse right in front of me and I know what it does.

All of this makes it hard to watch, but it’s also kind of rewarding because everyone in this show has an arc and motivations and faces real stakes all the time. Compare with Altered Carbon, which I liked but to be frank, it was more like an elaborately produced version of an “Actual Play” session of a D&D game. Fun, stylish, action-packed, but also, I mean, you know everyone’s going to be OK (more or less) at the end.